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The Style Files

Portrait sessions & dressing the part: engagement what-to-wear for the stylish couple of lovers you are

16 October 2023

Are you planning a destination wedding in Italy or France, complete with pre-wedding photography? Or perhaps you’re trotting the globe as a couple of style, and want your Italy engagement session to shine with personality and style? Whether your portrait session is taking place at a spectacular destination or you simply want your couple shoot to look and feel absolutely amazing, I have some super-hot tips here for you to dress the part. Read along, it won’t take long!

Color me Old-school, but I DO love an excellent couple portrait! With all the bells and whistles of your wedding preparations, chances are you want some time alone to ENJOY FULLY and take in the fact that you’re getting married! What better way to do so than by letting go of everything, taking some time off, dressing to your nines, and GOING OUT ON A DATE? Only this time, your photographer is there to capture the electricity and romance! Yup! Pre-wedding images are delicious and ooze personal style.

What are your first thoughts on that? Most probably … oh, WOW, YES… but wait… WHAT SHOULD WE WEAR FOR OUR COUPLE SHOOT in order to make the most of it? This is a question that plagues a lot of couples, so allow me to share some tips, do’s, and don’ts to help you.

Numero uno: DRAW STYLESPO FROM YOUR LOCATION

I’m perfectly sure you’ve seen that tip a lot. Venues, destinations, and photography locations – albeit so naturally- influence your mood much, and together with that of your dressing (duh!) But what do we fashion and wedding photography people really mean by that? Well… a countryside wedding location (think Tuscany, Provence, Apulia, Normandy, Luberon, Mont Cassel, Chinon, Burgundy’s Cluny, Roussilon, Brittany, Perouges, Umbria … ) IS way different than a seaview wedding destination (the likes of Cote d’ Azure, The Amalfi Coast, Cinque Terre, Calabria, Sicily, Capri, Trouville, Biarritz..).
Should you aim, for instance, to get photographed in an old mansion, don’t look twice at anything classic navy or too zipped up. Instead, match your surroundings in earthy mismatched (yet tonal) combinations, creating looks for you both that complement each other and are kept simple (whites, browns, greens, a little black, hazels) and distinguished. Remember, this is not the time to be cute and break out in white sneakers or stilettos because they’ll be caked in mud and dust within four steps.
If you’re aching to set yourselves in a garden, your superpersonal touches can include crisp fabrics, hard-sole shoes (mind the lawn ladies, heels can dive deep in), gorgeous pastels (they look amazing among greenery), and accessories – like sunnies, a classy lady bag, and sleek jewelry + your engagement ring – will do the trick. Now, if you’re up for the most covetable destinations, such as Paris, Lake Como, and New York … you can go unapologetically plush and glamorous, with subtly rich accouterments, a pocket square & elegantly cut suit for the gent, a ruffled gown, and statement heels for the lady !!!
Another enviable location may be the tropics. The Maldives, Saint Bath’s, Dubai, Morocco, Fiji… you name it. Dressing here undoubtedly involves high temps and a good bit of humidity… (the horror!). Choose light-colored linens and gowns with maximum airflow. I loved the appliquéd cotton gown La Robe Draggiu from Jacquemus and the Hanne Bloch olive tule dress with the entire back exposed… Everything Zimmermann also looks the bomb! And that goes for every seaside location, really.

Numero due: WATCH THE PRINTS

Every Italian has, at some point in their lives, embraced the maximal mood of printed fabrics (yours included, with no self-restraint, especially during my family’s last tropical holiday) Versace, Pucci, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Valentino, not to mention the house of Dior whose resort collections are simply stunning. But your engagement shots should not revolve around prints for a very specific reason: here is where your faces are the protagonists. The Love. The gestures. I repeat. Your faces. Your images should look timeless because you will be looking at them for years. Printed fabrics are amazing (I truly love them), but they take away all of the attention from the deeper story that is YOU! Hence my all-time good advice is to let printed clothing aside, especially large geometries and bold flowers. If you are desperate to put on something printed, opt for a second look during your shots. This brings me to the next tip…

Numero tre : SPORT TWO ENGAGEMENT PHOTO LOOKS INSTEAD OF ONE

And no more than 3.
Why two? Because this way, you will be able to go from something more casual and easy to something dressier. Because (if you love prints) you will be able to change into the mood of the next location. Because the dressing is different during the times of day (or maybe this is my Italian DNA and my nonna’s voice in my head).
Why no more than 3? During your pre-wedding session, we will be walking a lot (ladies, always make sure you have an extra pair of easy to remove, and put on again, comfy flats for walks to and fro), and you will definitely need a place to change outfits, which may begin to tire you up as the shooting proceeds. Since ease and relaxed posture make all images better, I prefer this for you instead of having you change clothing and end up feeling overwhelmed. Begin shooting with the one that feels right for the time of day and is easier to take off.

Numero quatro: ACCESSORIZE / MANICURE-IZE

Much like your dressing, too many accessories can break a shoot. Pretty things are lovely to carry but don’t necessarily belong in your engagement shots. Instead of bringing two bags, three pairs of shoes, two hats /scarves/pairs of sunnies/pairs of earrings, choose the natural accessories that will give you different shots, say… a glass of vino or mimosas, a bunch of fresh flowers (the lighter, the better), an elegant pochette, a raffia hat, and make sure all your ends are trimmed, and polished. Which means hair, nails, and toenails (if you’re wearing sandals).

Numero cinque: CAN WE BRING OUR DOG?

I mean, this is not what to wear but who to bring with, but puppers sometimes wear something lovely too, right? NOW… As a dog father of two (who run my house, my office, and my life, come to think of it), I will tell you there is so much sweetness in having your furry bundle of joy in your engagement photos. You are a family-to-be, so it’s a resounding yes from me. However, if your amazing boi is coming, consider a)extending your photography time by one hour because this little sowl needs more rest than we hoomans do, b)not forcing accessories or unneeded clothing, c)carrying water with you at all times, d)providing for a keeper when your pup is not participating the portrait shoot e)that your chosen location has plenty of shade f) that they are comfortable getting photographed and don’t get scared of the lens.

ANYTHING ELSE?

No matter what you choose to wear during your pre-wedding portraits, it should reflect your personality, your lifestyle, and your unique you-ness! I’ve always found, for example, that natural “skippers” feel so at ease when on board a yacht wearing mariner blouses and sailor trousers, while preppy couples enjoy their shots more when dressing just like they would do on a day out in the city. Wish me to help you more with your engagement images? Drop me a line, and I’ll get back to you asap!

BEHIND THE LENS

photo credit: greg finck

MEET
GABRIELE

Scripting electric storylines in Milan's designer-scene Gabriele's stylistic approach culls from fashion-campaigns & photojournalism.
His wedding images tap on the modern side of Love meld with
Italianate sapor.

As a fashion portraitist I've treaded between reality and fantasy, identity and inclusivity, time, space, culture and (be)longing. These all influenced how I photograph real people, urging me to create images that offer -in their simplicity- a connective tissue and counterpoint to my subjects. I tell stories of how chance encounters between strangers come to form families, and capture how their shared space, experiences, values and time bring about the little magic the future needs. It's all very Italian, and so universal at the same time. 

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